The Austin music community woke up on Aug. 27, 1990 25 years ago today with a piece of its soul gone. At close to 1 a.m. , blues guitar great Stevie Ray Vaughan perished in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wis., after a concert.
It was a foggy night and the pilot took off from behind the stage at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre and flew into the side of a ski slope half a mile away. All five aboard the Chicago-bound helicopter — Vaughan, the pilot and three members of Eric Clapton’s entourage — were killed instantly.
Vaughan died about an hour after joining a superstar jam finale with brother Jimmie, Clapton, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy at the outdoor venue 40 miles southwest of Milwaukee .
Stevie Ray Vaughan was just 35 and on a spiritual high after giving up drugs and alcohol four years earlier.
Besides being an exciting guitar player, whose debut LP revitalized the blues in 1983, Vaughan was beloved in Austin because he’d come up the hard way, toiling in dive bars such as the One Knite and the Rome Inn for more than a dozen years before he broke out nationally.